On the Art of the Tattoo


Tattoos can be a very prickly matter. Case in point. I just read a fellow ChicagoNow blogger's critique of body art. Seems he finds it repellent. He even invokes the Old Testament as an expert witness for the prosecution.

I myself do not sport any tattoos. But some of my children do.  And my brother-in-law's epidermis is especially pictorial.  I suppose like beauty, tattoo taboo is totally in the eye of the beholder. So I reserve the right to withhold judgment until I have carefully analyzed the finished product.

Presidents, so I  have discovered , have not shied away from indulging in--- what some  detractors call--- this self-mutilation. Andrew Jackson not surprisingly had a  tomahawk prominently displayed on the inside of his thigh. Theodore Roosevelt proudly  had his family crest etched--- where else?--- but on his chest.

With a surname like his,  you would expect Franklin Pierce to have had one.  To his great regret he let his brother  perform the operation.  He was so embarrassed by the result that henceforth a pair of  long sleeves was always part of his wardrobe.

That celebrated darkhorse president, James Polk, is said to be the first white man to sport a Chinese character tattoo. I guess he really wanted it;  it meant "eager".

The only bachelor to ever be president, James Buchanan, was so pleased as punch to be unattached he attached "BFL" to  his abdomen: "Bachelor For Life".  I  wonder  if he ever did have  a mistress, would he  have told her it stood for "Below Find Love"?

And whoever thought President Eisenhower was a card-carrying tattooer? He had the ace of spades on his butt.



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  • It was indicated that Buchanan had another reason.

    Also, there seem to be other implications of your German spelling of Eisenhower. Maybe he used it to moon POWs.

  • In reply to jack:

    Oops. Must be because I'm married to an Austrian-American. Thanks, Jack.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    And your suggestion is hilarious!

  • Jack, so Buchanan may have given new meaning to the expression "the seat of government"?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    I guess it depends if he had a tramp stamp.

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